The inauguration of a third gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey yesterday marked a new dawn for relations between the two countries. The TurkStream pipeline, which runs for 930km under the Black Sea, will carry 31.5 billion cubic metres a year of Russian gas to Turkey’s western province. This deepening of Turkish dependence on Russian energy would have been near-unthinkable just a few years ago, when tensions came to a head in 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft near the Syrian border. However, the withdrawal of American troops in the region has left a power vacuum both wish to fill, leading to a growing relationship of convenience.
The opening of the pipeline comes at a time where the region is becoming more and more unstable. With Iran, Turkey’s second-largest supplier of natural gas, embroiled in an ever escalating spat with the US which could risk supply disruption, the new pipeline helps bolster Turkish energy security – as well as strengthen Russia’s foothold in the volatile region. This isn’t the first sign of tighter ties between Ankara and the Kremlin: towards the end of last year, Al Jazeera reported that the two nations were working on a new missile contract. However, this latest development demonstrates the breadth and depth of the Russian-Turkish alliance, which is likely to play an extremely important role in the future of the Middle East.